The MMFA cancels the exhibition featuring The Origin of the World

The origins of the world: the invention of nature in the 19th century, was first to be presented at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris from November to February, before being adapted for the Quebec metropolis in June.

However, the closure of museums in France caused by the COVID-19 pandemic upset the organization of this large-scale presentation.

Gustave Courbet’s work “The origin of the world”

Photo: AFP / PASCAL GUYOT

Programming schedules that have become incompatible

This is bad news on top of so much more bad news like this across the museum world this year. It was a festival of postponements, cancellations and delays, commented the Director General of the MMFA, Stéphane Aquin, at the microphone of Catherine Richer, cultural columnist of the show The 15-18.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed caused a domino game. The exhibition The origins of the world: the invention of nature in the 19th century was due to end in early May in Paris and open in mid-June in Montreal. As the Parisian public has not yet been able to discover it, the Musée d’Orsay wishes to extend the exhibition beyond the month of May.

But rescheduling the exhibition again was difficult. To do this, it would have been necessary to renegotiate the loan period for works belonging to other museums. However, some works have already been promised to other exhibitions elsewhere in the world.

Already pushing back [la fin de l’exposition] from May to October, we had several refusals of very large loans, said Stéphane Aquin, who faced the same problem when working for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He left this Washington institution last fall totake the head of the MMFA.

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Renegotiating everything for 2022 is extremely difficult. We are already involved in other projects, he added.

Portrait of Stéphane Aquin.

Stéphane Aquin, Director General of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Photo: Provided by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Jeff Elkins

No link with the departure of Nathalie Bondil

According to Stéphane Aquin, the decision has been made with regret by mutual agreement with the Musée d’Orsay and has nothing to do with the dismissal of Nathalie Bondil, who initiated the project in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay when she was still Director General of the MMFA.

It is purely a logic of calendar, he assured. Nathalie set up great projects, we were happy to continue this project.

We had a very happy collaboration with our colleagues from Orsay, he also declared. We talked about different projects we could work on.

Therefore, the exhibition Riopelle: meeting northern territories and indigenous cultures will be extended until September 12.

It was the MMFA’s turn to meet at the Place du Musée d’Orsay, since Riopelle’s works were to go to Whistler, British Columbia.

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